Nuffield Health: apprenticeships fit for the future

A switch to purely external training means Nuffield Health now optimises its levy. Here’s how we’re aligning apprenticeships to its latest strategy, The Big Build.

Maintaining 0% levy expiration with an external training provision

Nuffield Health, one of the UK’s leading independent health service providers, used to be an employer provider when the levy first launched in 2017. But after re-evaluating its entire apprenticeship strategy, the business transitioned to a purely external operational model in 2019.

And it’s had a transformative impact. The move has not only driven a real breadth of programmes, but switching to external apprenticeship training has seen an impressive 304% increase in learners and it no longer expires any of its levy funds.

A collaboration with Lifetime brought fresh inspiration for driving Nuffield Health’s provision forward, where we‘ve become a natural extension of the team by taking the day-to-day management off their hands.

Together, we’ve successfully realigned apprenticeships to the very forefront of Nuffield Health’s people development, focusing on Leadership and Management, Early Years, Health Care and Personal Training. Led by robust planning and innovative thinking, we’ve continued to evolve the apprenticeship offering, maximise workforce potential and create impact where it’s needed most.

increase in learners
increase in levy spend
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Optimising the levy: forward-thinking investment

In a company as diverse and as wide-reaching as Nuffield Health, it’s vital to create an agile, multi-skilled workforce to meet its demands. It’s why the company has always looked at how the levy can future-proof its internal talent. But since the start of our partnership, we’ve established new ways to do it.

It’s not just about spending the levy to expire zero funds. Our collaboration has optimised Nuffield Health's levy spend, driving a strategy that invests apprenticeship funds in the right areas.

Now, with over 50 programmes available, Nuffield Health’s provision successfully levels up careers in all areas of the business, from healthcare, fitness and wellbeing, to its head office and support role positions.

Almost 400 of its 550+ learners are on programme with Lifetime, with different level apprenticeships that support different skills and career levels. Our latest learner survey proves just how well it’s working:

of apprentices are still employed two years after completion
have been promoted or taken on additional responsibilities
of learners achieved a distinction

The Big Build 2030: apprenticeships that turn strategy into action

Nuffield Health is now armed with refreshed objectives for its future direction, so we’re working together to support and contribute to the success of its new strategy. And there are big plans in the lead-up to 2030.

The Big Build outlines how Nuffield Health is striving to build a healthier nation, from engaging with local communities to extending its beneficiary reach.

It’s why many of its company-wide operations focus on unlocking social mobility. Over the next eight years, Nuffield Health will continue to offer opportunities to people of all ages and from all backgrounds – and apprenticeships will be an essential part of delivering on that agenda.

So, how are we working together to support Nuffield Health’s ambitions? There are three main pillars for turning strategy into action, with activities that are already underway:

An apprenticeship-first approach
Developing recruitment synergy
Uncovering early career pathways


Nuffield Health's objective is to become an employer of choice across its prime sectors. It’s already maximising the levy to upskill existing staff – but it plans to take this one step further.

To reach a wider talent pool from different backgrounds, it's leveraging Lifetime’s marketing and engagement support to take recruitment to the next level and, essentially, get the message out there.

For every single new vacancy, managers are encouraged to #ThinkApprenticeshipFirst. Working together, we’ll raise the profile of its campaign, boost engagement with apprenticeships and change the mindset of hiring managers to incorporate new job roles and reach out to the wider community.

Establishing recruitment synergy

For Nuffield Health, the Great Resignation meant vacancies needed to be filled across diverse teams, from Personal Trainers to Healthcare Assistants and Early Years Practitioners.

Apprenticeship recruitment has proved to be an invaluable solution for hard-to-fill vacancies; it’s resulted in one in three of Nuffield Health’s sites recruiting an apprentice. It’s also opened up opportunities to proactively find, attract and onboard people from different backgrounds – ideally in the top 20% IMD.

But to reach people from all backgrounds and fill critical vacancies, there needs to be recruitment synergies – both internally and externally. To make it happen, Lifetime’s recruitment team works as a natural extension of Nuffield Health, with a cohort approach that reaches out to the wider community at speed. We asked one of Nuffield’s Heath’s Line Managers, Simona Giedraityte, her thoughts:

"We struggled to attract quality candidates to fill our Personal Trainer vacancy, so I reached out to the apprenticeship team. The whole process was seamless. Lifetime sourced candidates, arranged interviews and provided me with a bespoke interview template (which was very useful as I'd not interviewed for an apprentice role before). I identified a successful candidate, then the onboarding process was quick and easy.”

Simona Giedraityte, Fitness Manager at Nuffield Health

Shaping Nuffield Health’s next generation

Clear career pathways are the foundation of social mobility, especially for younger generations. Whether the end goal is to become a qualified Nurse, Personal Trainer or future leader, apprenticeships provide Nuffield Health’s young workforce with routes for development, known internally as Early Careers Pathways.

Nuffield Health also recognises that young people need to hear authentic messages about inclusivity in the workplace – and they need to hear them more. A key part of this is showcasing apprenticeships as an excellent alternative to university.

We’re working together to support this initiative, fuelling the next generation's ambitions and boosting Nuffield Health’s status as an apprenticeship employer of choice for young people. We’ll do it by continuing to uncover dynamic school-leaver pathways for career development, from entry-level all the way up to leadership.

Being a Nuffield Health apprentice

To develop its future leaders, we’ve built on Nuffield Health’s leadership capability framework, using regular alignment sessions led by Lifetime coaches to fully understand and embed the organisation’s purpose and values.

“The apprenticeship has given me a better understanding of how Nuffield works as a business, and what needs to be done to create the positive business outcomes we desire. The communication has been great, and my coach was always available whenever I needed support. I found the whole system very flexible and tailored to my needs as a learner.”

Regina Marletta, Team Leader Supervisor Level 3 Apprentice

Continuing to raise the bar at Nuffield Health

Nuffield Health already has a leading-edge apprenticeship provision; with a robust evaluation process, its learner experience stays at the forefront. The high retention rates and progression figures prove just how well the programme works, impacting both its 550+ learners and the organisation itself.

Together, we’ll continue to raise the bar of Nuffield Health's provision to support its 2030 strategy. We’ll focus on boosting its employer of choice status, from levelling up its internal teams, attracting new teams, to developing its next generation of people. We’re excited about Nuffield Health’s future – and how our collaboration plays a key part in its refreshed direction.

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Our apprenticeship programme adds so much value to our organisation. Lifetime understands us, how we work and what we need from our provision. We’re excited to see how our continued collaboration grows our offering and drives our strategy.

Nicole Swaby, Apprenticeship Lead at Nuffield Health
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